In March of this year, a British parliamentary researcher was arrested on suspicion of being a Chinese spy. The researcher, Chris Cash, was revealed to be a 28-year-old history graduate with links to many Tory MPs. He had been seen associating with senior Tories such as security minister Tom Tugendhat and Foreign Affairs Committee chair Alicia Kearns. Cash was believed to have been recruited as a sleeper agent while living and working in China and sent back to the UK to infiltrate political networks critical of the Beijing regime.
Cash was the leader of the China Research Group, a body advocating for a more hawkish British policy towards China. Co-founded by Tory ministers Tom Tugendhat and Neil O’Brien in April 2020, the group focused on industrial, technological, and foreign policy issues. The group’s website claimed that it aimed to provide informed knowledge on China and promote debate and fresh thinking about how Britain should respond to the rise of China.
Chris Cash was arrested in Edinburgh and released on bail until early October, along with another suspect. It is unclear how much access Cash had to foreign affairs intelligence or what kind of influence he may have held in Westminster. While he held a parliamentary pass, he did not have security clearance.
China has denied all accusations of involvement in an espionage scheme involving Cash, calling them malicious slander.
Pope Sends Prayers to Comfort Morocco Earthquake Victims as Death Toll Surpasses 2,000
On Sunday, Pope Francis expressed his prayers and support for the victims of the powerful earthquake that hit Morocco, resulting in the highest number of fatalities in over 60 years. During his Angelus message, he prayed for those injured and those who lost their lives, along with their families.
The Pope also expressed his gratitude towards the rescue workers who are working tirelessly to help the victims. He concluded by saying that they stand in solidarity with the people of Morocco during this difficult time.
African Union’s Inclusion in G20: A Significant Acknowledgment of a Continent with 1 Billion Inhabitants
The world’s most powerful economies, the G20, have welcomed the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, recognising Africa’s more than 50 countries as important players on the global stage. US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi both expressed support for the AU’s permanent membership.
The AU has advocated for full membership for seven years and, until now, South Africa was the only African country in the G20. The AU represents a continent with a young population of 1.3 billion, which is set to double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world’s population.
Africa’s 55 member states have long pushed for meaningful roles in global bodies, including the United Nations Security Council, and want reforms to the global financial system. The continent is increasingly attracting investment and political interest from global powers like China, Russia, Gulf nations, Turkey, Israel, and Iran. African leaders are challenging the framing of the continent as passive victim and want to be brokers instead.
They seek fairer treatment by financial institutions, delivery of rich countries’ long-promised $100 billion a year in climate financing for developing nations, and a global tax on fossil fuels. The AU’s full G20 membership will enable it to represent a continent that’s home to the world’s largest free trade area and abundant resources needed to combat climate change. The African continent has 60% of the world’s renewable energy assets and over 30% of the minerals key to renewable and low-carbon technologies.
African leaders want more industrial development closer to home to benefit their economies. Finding a common position among the AU’s member states, from economic powers to some of the world’s poorest nations, can be challenging, but Africa will need to speak with one voice to influence G20 decision-making. African leaders have shown their willingness to take collective action, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a high-profile G20 member, Africa’s demands will be harder to ignore.
Rishi Sunak’s Pledge: Funding UK’s £2 Billion Wage Boost through Revised Visa Fees for Migrants
To cover the cost of public sector pay rises, the UK government will increase fees for migrants entering the country. Rishi Sunak announced that over a billion pounds will be generated through significant increases in visa fees and the charge imposed on overseas workers using the National Health Service. These changes have been made without resorting to borrowing or tax increases.
Following the announcement, teachers are expected to call off their strikes while doctors have vowed to take industrial action due to the below-inflation settlement. Mr Sunak explained that the increased fees for migrants and the immigration health surcharge will raise over a billion pounds. However, the charity Praxis, which supports migrants and refugees, argued that the government is treating people born outside the UK as “cash cows.”
Despite this criticism, Mr Sunak maintained that difficult choices had to be made to fund public sector pay rises. He emphasised that the funding was not about cuts but rather “just about focusing on public sector workers’ pay rather than other things.” Approximately half of the cost will be met by a rise of up to 20% in visa fees, while the immigration health surcharge will increase from £624 to £1,035. The rest of the bill will be paid through “reprioritising” resources within Whitehall departments.